Bitcoin News: California Legalises Digital Currency, While Australia Remains in Limbo

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By Reissa Su | June 30, 2014 4:25 PM EST

The use of Bitcoin, Dogecoin and other digital currencies has been legalised in California after the governor, Jerry Brown, signed the bill on June 28. The move has been described as a reversal of an "outdated" prohibition of the use of alternative currencies.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
A woman stands behind a digital Bitcoin wallet during the Inside Bitcoins: The Future of Virtual Currency Conference in New York April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Known as AB129, the bill will ensure that various forms of alternative currencies such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, coupons, points and other digital currencies are valid in buying goods and services in California.

The new law is a repeal of the current state law that only U.S. currency is allowed for commercial trade. Democratic Assemblyman of California Roger Dickinson said the new law is only a reflection of the growing popularity of Bitcoin and other alternative forms of currency.

In a statement, Dickinson, who is also the bill's author, said it would be "impractical" to ignore these digital currencies in an "era of evolving payment methods." He remarked the bill hopes to finetune current laws in response to the changing payment habits of Californians, especially in the mobile or digital field.

While Bitcoin and other digital currencies are welcomed in California, Australia has yet to lift its restrictions. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has delayed its ruling on Bitcoin. The delay has left businesses accepting the digital currency "in limbo."

According to reports, the ATO has yet to decide whether or not to treat Bitcoin as a currency or property. The Bitcoin industry in Australia has been hoping for ATO to issue its taxation guidance before the end of the financial year.

The release of the tax guidance may not be happening anytime soon as the ATO has asked further advice from Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson. This would mean Australian companies accepting Bitcoin as payment will have to continue without knowing their tax liabilities. Reports said they may face large tax bills for all their digital currency transactions.

An ATO spokesman said the office has delayed its decision to make sure the ruling was according to Australian law.  

ABC has revealed previously that ATO has kept a close watch on digital currency news and activities in Australia and around the world. Documents from the Freedom of Informationa (FOI) showed the tax office was becoming more concerned about people using Bitcoin to avoid paying tax. 

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(Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson / )
A woman stands behind a digital Bitcoin wallet during the Inside Bitcoins: The Future of Virtual Currency Conference in New York April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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